Ricky Williams was a running back for the Texas Longhorns, and holds or shares several all-time Division 1 NCAA Football records. A two-time All-American, he was the Heisman Trophy winner in 1998. The New Orleans Saints selected him in the first round of the 1999 NFL Entry Draft with the fifth overall pick.
In three seasons as the Saints feature back, Williams gained a total of 3,129 yards on 814 carries, scoring 16 touchdowns. The team posted a 20-28 record during his time, advancing to the playoffs with a 10-6 season in 2000. He was traded to the Dolphins in March of 2002 for four draft picks, two of which were first-rounders.
In 2002, Williams put up the best numbers of his career, leading the NFL with 383 rushes for 1,853 yards, also leading the League with 115.8 rushing yards per game. He scored 16 rushing touchdowns, tying for second behind Priest Holmes 21 for the Kansas City Chiefs. He was selected to his only career Pro Bowl, and was also a first-team All-Pro. He had seven games in which he scored two touchdowns and 10 times broke the 100 yard barrier. In a two week span late in the season he gained 444 yards on 58 carries, scoring four touchdowns. The team finished the season 9-7, missing the playoffs. If every season was like his first with the team, he would have finished much higher on this list, but we all know the story. For those who don't, read on, after the jump.
2003 would see Williams again lead the NFL in carries, with 392. He only averaged 3.5 yards per carry, finishing the season with 1,372 yards and nine touchdowns. He still had seven 100-yard rushing games, including a 42 carry, 153 yard performance in a week three 17-7 victory over the Buffalo Bills. Miami finished 10-6, missing the playoffs despite their winning record.
After violating the NFL's drug policy, and facing suspension for his alleged activity, Williams officially retired from the League on August 2, 2004 to pursue the study of Ayurveda, a system of holistic medicine. Miami posted a 4-12 record in his absence, Williams is often targeted as one of the main reasons for the collapse.
Williams returned to the Dolphins in 2005, and after serving a four game suspension gained 743 yards and scored six rushing touchdowns on 168 carries while splitting the load with Ronnie Brown. He posted the two best rushing performances of the season in the seasons final two weeks, both wins, gaining a collective 280 yards on 54 carries and scoring twice. Miami's 9-7 record was not good enough to qualify for the postseason.
Williams again violated the NFL's drug policy during the offseason and was suspended for the entire 2006 season. He spent the year with the CFL's Toronto Argonauts, and suffered through various ailments, still managing to gain 526 yards on 109 carries.
After his contract with the Argonauts was up, Williams failed another drug test while applying for reinstatement to the NFL. After adhering to a strict drug testing policy he managed to start for Miami against the Pittsburgh Steelers on November 26th, 2007. He gained 15 yards on six carries before tearing his pectoral muscle. He would miss the rest of the season. The Dolphins finished 1-15 on the year.
In 2008, Williams was finally ready for full time duty. Splitting time with Ronnie Brown, he gained 659 yards and scored four touchdowns on 160 carries, starting three games and appearing in the other 13 as Miami completed a remarkable turnaround, finishing 11-5 and qualifying for the playoffs. He gained over 100 yards once, in a 21-19 victory over the Seattle Seahawks in week nine. He rushed 12 times for 105 yards and a score.
2009 would see Williams return to form. He would assume the starting role after starter Ronnie Brown was felled with a season ending injury to gain 1,121 yards on 241 carries and 11 touchdowns. His 4.7 yards per carry was the second best mark of his career, behind only his great 2002 campaign. Miami finished 7-9.
In 2010, Williams gained 673 yards on 159 carries, scoring twice. Miami again finished at 7-9, and Williams left for the Baltimore Ravens, with whom he would play for one season before retiring.
In six full seasons with the Dolphins (plus one game in 2007), Williams scored 48 touchdowns on a team record 1,509 carries for a team second best (behind only Larry Csonka) 6,436 yards. He also caught 197 passes for 1,431 yards and six more scores.